SWAT Team Raids House And Kills Homeowner Because Criminal Who Burglarized The House Told Them To

SWAT Team Raids House And Kills Homeowner Because Criminal Who Burglarized The House Told Them To (Techdirt, Oct 8, 2014):

from the get-cops-to-do-your-bidding-using-this-one-simple-trick! dept

We’ve heard complaints that warrant requirements for searches are an obstacle to efficient crime fighting. Here’s a timeline of an incident that led to the death of a homeowner during a SWAT team raid in search of drugs it never found. (via PoliceMisconduct.net)

Late Sept. 22nd/early A.M. Sept. 23rd: David and Teresa Hooks’ home was burglarized. Among the items stolen was their SUV.

Sept. 23rd, 3:45 pm: After a brief investigation, the Laurens County Sheriff’s Dept. issues an arrest warrant for suspect Rodney Garrett.

Sept. 24th, 3:45 pm: 24 hours later, Garrett is in police custody, turning himself in after becoming “fearful for his life” when he realized a bag he stole from the Hooks’ home contained crystal meth. He confessed to the burglary, vehicle theft and “other crimes.” (It must be noted that this version of events comes from the warrant application. Hooks’ attorney’s statement merely says Garrett was “taken into custody.”)

Sept. 24th, 9:56 pm: Six hours, later the Laurens County “drug task force” has its warrant application for a search of Hooks’ house signed by Judge Snell, based almost solely on the statements made by an admitted felon in their custody.

From a statement by the Hooks’ attorney, Mitch Shook:

The facts submitted to Deputy Magistrate Snell to convince her that probable cause existed to issue the warrant consisted of the statement by Rodney Garrett a confessed burglar, thief, and a meth addict who was under the influence at the time of his arrest that the approximately 20 grams of methamphetamine, a digital scale, and 2 firearms found on him at the time of arrest had been stolen by him out of another vehicle at the Hooks home.

The warrant application also lists an investigation from 2009 as more “probable cause.”

In the warrant application, Laurens investigator Chris Brewer wrote that he knew Hooks and his home address from a previous investigation. Brewer said a suspect claimed he had been supplying “multiple ounces” of methamphetamine to Hooks, who re-sold it.

Shook says that investigation was done in 2009. Neither Shook or the Sheriff’s department stated the outcome of that investigation.

The timeline continues. One hour later — at 10:55 PM — Hooks’ home is raided and David Hooks is shot dead.

Here’s the police version:

The Laurens County Sheriff’s office says Hooks was shot after he got out a firearm and started showing aggression.

Here’s his wife’s version:

He says Teresa Hooks, David’s wife, looked outside and saw people with hoods during the evening of the drug search. He says she woke her husband up, thinking the burglars were back. He says Hooks then armed himself.

Which seems plausible. Less than 48 hours had passed and Hooks would have had no idea he was on the receiving end of a drug task force “investigation.” The word “investigation” receives the scariest of scare quotes, considering it mostly consisted of a multiple felon trying to explain away the gun, scale and meth in his possession. If the suspect had claimed he didn’t rob Hooks’ house, the police wouldn’t have believed him. But when this same suspect starts blabbering about finding meth during his robbery, the cops are all ears, as though he were Abraham Lincoln himself, swearing on a stack of Bibles.

How do we know all of this is bullshit? Because the police spent almost as much time searching Hooks’ house — nearly two days — as it did between the point Hooks’ house was invaded the first time (by confessed burglar Rodney Garrett) and the second time (by the SWAT team).

[A]fter taking over the scene at around 11:55 p.m. on the 24th of September the GBI conducted a thorough search of the property that lasted until approximately 8:00 p.m. Friday, September 26th. That search of some 44 hours conducted by numerous agents with the GBI resulted in not one item of contraband being found! This has been confirmed to the family by the GBI and is evidenced by the return of the original search warrant which was finally filed in court on September 29th and indicates that nothing was seized pursuant to the search warrant.

In between these two periods of 40+ hours was a flashpoint: the raid itself. The task force shot Hooks dead in his own home, pursuing the self-serving pipe dreams of a meth addict. The SWAT team broke down the back door and fired “no less than 16 shots” at David Hooks, some blindly through an adjacent wall. Hooks had every right to pick up his weapon and investigate this second home invasion. But in doing so, he gave every raiding officer all the justification needed to shoot first — and shoot often.

He’s too dead to be charged with forcing law enforcement weapons to discharge (because they fire themselves so often in official police statements), and he died as the result of a speedy judge-jury-executioner process that hinged on the arbitrary credulity of the Sheriff’s Department and its drug task force. To call this willing suspension of disbelief an “investigation” is to strip the word of all meaning. (And beat it. And send it naked and bruised into the harsh winter, etc.) A late-night raid has all sort of deadly implications that could have been avoided by an actual investigation. Now, the department has blood on its hands and a lawyer on its trail — all because a burglar told some law enforcement officers whatever came to mind during his interrogation.

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